Air

Tracking the latest agency and congressional debates over rules to cut emissions of traditional pollutants, and a broad range of novel EPA policies including the agency's shift to a "multipollutant" regulatory approach for individual sectors.

Topic Subtitle
Tracking the latest agency and congressional debates over rules to cut emissions of traditional pollutants, and a broad range of novel EPA policies including the agency's shift to a "multipollutant" regulatory approach for individual sectors.

OFFSHORE WIND OPPONENTS HOPE WARNER KEEPS TRYING TO BLOCK PROJECT

Sen. John Warner (R-VA) was forced to drop a controversial amendment to the defense authorization bill earlier this month that would have banned offshore wind projects pending further congressional action on the issue, but opponents of Cape Wind, the first and largest planned offshore wind farm in the nation, say the issue is far from dead. A long-expected draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for the proposed 130-turbine Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound off the Massachusetts coast is being delayed...

DOE FACES TOUGH QUESTIONS ON ADDING CHP TO GREENHOUSE REGISTRY

Department of Energy (DOE) officials plan to offer recognition for combined heat and power (CHP) systems in revisions to proposed greenhouse gas reporting guidelines, giving manufacturing industries an incentive to use energy-efficient systems that produce heat and energy at the same time. But sources following the issue say the department will face complicated questions over how to account for emissions reductions that stem from the use of CHP. DOE is revising guidelines proposed last year for the voluntary reporting of...

EPA DENIES CO2 AUTHORITY TO COURT AS AIR CHIEF HINTS AT FUTURE CONTROLS

At the same time that EPA air chief Jeffrey Holmstead created a furor by suggesting that mandatory climate change regulations are possible in the future, EPA is asking the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit to deny a request by state attorneys general and environmental groups to force the agency to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as part of its statutory duty under the Clean Air Act. The Oct. 12 legal brief, filed by the Department of...

FIRST-TIME SHIPPING GREENHOUSE INDEX PROCEEDS AFTER DISPUTE TABLED

International negotiators have tabled a dispute over pending climate change guidelines for ships, allowing officials to continue developing a first-time procedure for calculating greenhouse gas emissions from ocean-going vessels. An environmental committee within the International Maritime Organization (IMO) met in London Oct. 11-15 to consider issues that included a pending draft of an "indexing scheme" for maritime greenhouse gas emissions. Prior to the meeting, EPA and other U.S. officials had raised concerns about a possible move among developing countries to...

ILLINOIS DECISION NOT TO BACK STATE EMISSION RULES OUTRAGES ACTIVISTS

Environmentalists say they are shocked and angered by an Illinois EPA (IEPA) report concluding it would be "irresponsible" to move forward with state-specific requirements for electric utilities to reduce emissions, particularly because top state officials have long criticized EPA's approach to regulating these emissions as far too weak. The three-year study, released Sept. 30, was widely expected to recommend stricter power plant rules, positioning Illinois to become the first Midwestern, coal-producing state to set utility emission standards that went beyond...

UTILITIES CITE FINANCIAL, OTHER OBSTACLES TO COMPLIANCE WITH CAIR

Officials with large investor-owned utilities that produce coal-fired power are urging EPA to delay by at least two years the initial 2010 deadline to reduce interstate air emissions, claiming that high costs, and the demands of retrofit technology, will prevent utilities from getting the job done in time. One utility official claims it will cost Southern Company alone at least $5 billion over the next 10 years to retrofit existing coal plants and, using that estimate, it could cost the...

CALL FOR ADMINISTRATIVE DATA QUALITY REFORMS SPARKS OPPOSITION

A former EPA attorney is suggesting that the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) require federal agencies to reference the Information Quality Act (IQA) in rulemaking preambles, effectively paving the way for certain data-based disputes to be challenged in federal court. The recommendation is already prompting protests from environmentalists. Gerald Yamada, who served in EPA's general counsel's office for 13 years and was acting head of the office for several periods, wrote in an Oct. 1 opinion letter...

LAWSUIT ARGUES TEXAS IGNORED OLD OZONE RULE IN FAVOR OF NEW ONE

Environmentalists are suing EPA and charging the Dallas-Fort Worth area has failed to meet a long-standing requirement for cleaning up ozone pollution, while arguing the agency has muddied the waters by announcing it would revoke this rule during the transition to a new and stricter standard. The lawsuit may preview debates in other major cities that have not yet met requirements under the agency's 1-hour ozone standard, which EPA intends to revoke next year. The new 8-hour ozone rule will...

DELAY IN EPA VOC DECISION MAY HAMPER USE OF LESS-HARMFUL CHEMICAL

EPA's delay in exempting a chemical from regulation as a volatile organic compound (VOC) may postpone widespread use of the substance in a slew of ground-level ozone nonattainment areas -- even though EPA just approved it as an alternative to a chemical recently banned for depleting the stratospheric ozone layer, EPA and industry sources say. EPA's failure to finalize the VOC exemption discourages local areas out of attainment with federal ground-level ozone standards from allowing building contractors and others to...

NORTHEAST STATES WORRY OVER EPA GUIDE WAIVING SOME OZONE MANDATES

EPA's plan to continue waiving some nitrogen oxide (NOx) reduction requirements as states transition to implementing the agency's new 8-hour ozone rule is reviving Northeast states' concerns about potential increases in ozone transported from upwind states obtaining the exemptions, state sources say. EPA proposed in a Sept. 1 draft guidance -- which updates a 1993 guidance on ozone rule implementation -- to continue waiving NOx requirements under section 182(f) of the Clean Air Act in areas where lowering emissions can...

STATES TO OUTLINE PROPOSAL FOR MAJOR AIR PERMIT PROGRAM CHANGES

Western state air officials will release initial recommendations in the next few weeks for changes to a major EPA air permitting program, in the wake of a high-profile controversy this spring over the proposed expansion of power plants located adjacent to a national park in North Dakota. Air officials say the lengthy dispute in that state points to the need for regulatory changes to EPA's prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) program, which outlines permit requirements for sources in areas that...

SETTLEMENT PAVES WAY FOR USE OF 'EXPERIMENTAL' TECHNOLOGY IN PERMITS

Environmentalists have ended a legal challenge to an air permit for a Missouri cement plant, permitting the facility to set a possible precedent allowing industry more flexibility in its use of pollution controls. At the same time, EPA's objections to the permit still stand but the agency has tentatively decided not to overrule the state's decision, according to a source with EPA Region VII. An unusual provision in the permit allows the plant to designate certain pollution controls as "innovative...

DOJ SUIT COULD SIGNAL BROADER USE OF AIR ACT'S CRIMINAL PENALTIES

The Justice Department's (DOJ) high-profile prosecution of a New Jersey pipe manufacturer for alleged criminal violations of the Clean Air Act and other environmental laws could signal broader DOJ use of criminal prosecutions under the air law, industry and government attorneys say. In U.S. v. Atlantic States, et. al, a case pending in federal district court in New Jersey, the department is seeking to impose criminal penalties for alleged violations of air act Title V permit requirements for excess carbon...

BARTON DROPPING ENERGY BILL FOCUS FOR CLEAN AIR ACT REAUTHORIZATION

Unable to push comprehensive energy legislation through Congress, a frustrated Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, is telling lobbyists he will turn his attention next session from the comprehensive energy bill to the Clean Air Act, which has been expired for years. While some proponents of a comprehensive bill on energy still hold out hope for action on a pared-back version in a lame-duck session of Congress, which begins Nov. 16, others concede it...

CORPORATE TAX BILL PROVIDES INCENTIVES FOR MEETING EPA DIESEL RULE

Small oil refiners will likely receive tax breaks to comply with EPA regulations capping the sulfur content of diesel fuel used by trucks, under a provision included in a major corporate tax bill that President Bush is expected to soon sign into law. The tax credits have long been sought by petroleum refiners, who say the costly new EPA rule is hurting small refiners' ability to compete in the marketplace. The provision, which was originally part of stalled energy legislation,...

THINK TANK ARGUES CLIMATE STUDIES UNDERESTIMATE NEW TECHNOLOGY

A prominent climate change think tank is arguing that economic models should provide greater weight to the way climate change requirements promote technological innovation. The group also concludes that projected costs of reducing greenhouse gas emissions are far lower when taking into account policy incentives to develop new technology. The Pew Center on Global Climate Change released an Oct. 13 report arguing for the importance of "induced technological change," which occurs when climate change policies encourage the development of technology...

OREGON TO TAKE NEXT STEP IN WEST COAST GREENHOUSE GAS STRATEGY

An Oregon strategy to reduce the state's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the electric and transportation sectors, setting emissions targets and developing a carbon dioxide allowance system, is the next step in a regional approach to address climate change developed by the three West Coast governors, informed state government sources say. The recently-unveiled strategy recommends setting GHG emissions targets for the state, establishing a task force to develop a CO2 emissions allowance system and developing ways to improve energy efficiency...

CALIFORNIA EYES GAS TAX TO FUND HYDROGEN VEHICLE INITIATIVE

A California panel of experts formed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to advise the state on accelerating the commercialization of hydrogen-powered vehicles is expected to recommend a new gasoline tax to pay for the project. The proposal is likely to be controversial but could end up in legislation being developed for introduction next year by the California Environmental Protection Agency. In addition to funding, another key issue being considered to promote widespread use of hydrogen vehicles is standardizing the environmental...

EPA Delays Release Of Mercury Rule Reassessment Until After Election

EPA is delaying until after the presidential election the release of its highly anticipated and politically charged reanalysis of the Bush administration's mercury emissions proposal, agency sources say. EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt this summer pledged the agency would release additional research on the mercury rule in late September, including new modeling data on the effects of the mercury proposal combined with its pending Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR). But according to one EPA spokesman, the agency will now release the...

EPA Cites High-Court Tobacco Ruling In Argument Against CO2 Controls

In a recent court filing arguing against carbon dioxide (CO2) emission controls, the Bush administration is citing a Supreme Court decision that found the Food and Drug Administration lacked the authority to regulate tobacco, arguing that EPA's broad statutory mandate does not allow the agency to regulate CO2. An Oct. 12 legal brief , filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in International Center for Technology Assessment et al. v. Whitman , asks the U.S. District Court for the District...

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